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- Predictons 2004

What's in Store for 2004 - Business Week

If the 21st century has any provided any lessons so far, it's how full of surprises life really is. From the horror of September 11 to the shock and awe of the Iraqi invasion to the exhilarating Sunday morning a few weeks ago when Americans woke up to pictures of Saddam Hussein with a tongue-depressor in his mouth, what's most remembered is rarely what was planned for or anticipated.

Given history's surprises, isn't it futile to try predicting the future? Fat chance. With full disclaimer that no human -- especially journalists -- ever knows what's coming next, here are BusinessWeek Online's Top 10 Predictions for 2004, culled from the best guesses, hunches, and bets of our distinguished staff. As the final pages turn on 2003, see if you agree or disagree. Please let us know either way. And a happy and safe New Year to you and your loved ones:


1. George W. Bush will win a surprisingly close battle for reelection, gaining a narrow plurality of the popular vote that will erase questions over his controversial 2000 win but leave him with no mandate for a second term, save protecting and defending the national security.


2. Osama bin Laden will be captured or killed.


3. The U.S. economy will continue a decent rebound, growing at a 4.5% annual rate for 2004


4. The Dow Jones industrial average will flirt with 11,000 in spring or early summer, but end 2004 below that number, posting a modest 7% to 8% gain over 2003.


5. The Federal Reserve will state its increasing concern about the possibility of renewed inflation in its regular policymaking sessions of the Federal Open Market Committee, but it won't raise interest rates again until 2005.


6. Commodity exporters will be among the hottest stocks of 2004. Shares of agribusinesses, metal producers and suppliers, spare-parts makers, and so on will be big winners. Job losses in the U.S. manufacturing sector will end -- for now. Almost invisibly, China will suck in vast amounts of raw materials and commodities, becoming the manufacturing hub of the world by 2008.


7. The Recording Industry Association of America will back off its aggressive campaign to prosecute alleged music-file swappers amid a growing popular and legal backlash and the rising acceptance of a plethora of legal download services. The RIAA will also finally stop blaming pirates for the fall-off in sales of recorded music CDs, which drop a further 5% to 10% in 2004, even as paid downloads explode.


8. The Enron era will continue in 2004. At least one more major corporate scandal will erupt.


9. The New England Patriots will beat the St. Louis Rams in the 2004 Super Bowl.


10. The Boston Red Sox will beat the Chicago Cubs in the 2004 World Series in the battle of baseball's cursed. You read it here first.

Submitted by Randy T.
 






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